Friday, February 3, 2023

Six Questions for Jen Knox, Founder/Managing Director, Unleash Lit

Unleash Lit publishes fiction and creative nonfiction to 2,000 words, poetry and experimental works. “We are dedicated to publishing courageous writing that displays literary merit and philosophical or spiritual curiosity.“ Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Jen Knox: I have no idea why I started a literary journal. I mean, there are plenty of solid online journals that publish strong writing across genres. I suppose what Unleash Lit brings is a bit of scrappiness, so maybe on some level I felt that was needed. I honestly had no idea how much work it would be but, so far, the joy of supporting writers and building community is worth it. 

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

JK: Authenticity, humility, and curiosity. I have always been drawn to stories that examine the human experience rather than try to define it. I want to represent varied and diverse perspectives, and anything dogmatic will not have a chance. 

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

JK: Writing that tries too hard or is playing to a trend/what the author believes to be safe. I'd rather work with an author to polish rougher, grittier, more honest writing than publish polished work that says nothing new.

SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph(s)/stanza(s) of a submission?

JK: Cadence, voice, and heart. It's hard to explain what this looks like because it's different for every submission, but our team enjoys work that invites conversation.

SQF: What would you like authors to know about the services and workshops Unleash Lit offers?

JK: I personally offer a limited number of writing coaching sessions each year (though I have a feeling this will not be the case for long), and our team offers editing services on short work. Our editing service is available through Submittable, and we hope to keep it open year-round as our team grows. We also host writing workshops that range from generative to craft-focused. Finally, we publish one book a year through our annual book prize.  

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

JK: I love your questions, Jim. You have this down to a science. I will say that Unleash is just getting started, and ultimately my goal is to build a healthy and mutually supportive community of writers through all our efforts. Writing is not easy, especially in our digital age, and the more we can help each other grow, the more we'll be able to uncover the work that cuts through fear and limitation and contains the potential to expand perspectives. 

Thank you, Jen. We all appreciate your taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

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